Friday, March 28, 2014

US WW II veterans receive Legion of Honour in France

France bestows Legion of Honor on 14 U.S. vets for WWII efforts
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: March 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — They were willing to fight and risk death in France’s time of need, and this week in Washington, a grateful ally gave thanks.

Thirteen U.S. veterans of the Second World War pinned on the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration, in a ceremony at the French Embassy. Relatives of a 14th veteran who died days before the ceremony received the award in his name.

“In the darkest hours of our history, if you had not been by our side, France would not have been liberated,” Olivier Sérot-Alméras, French consul general in Washington, told the men. “We know, and we will always remember what the price was — 60,000 American soldiers were laid to rest on French soil.”

France has long given the Legion of Honor to U.S. veterans who made particular contributions to freeing the country from German occupation, but there is a special resonance to the ceremonies this year.

With the 70th anniversary of D-Day fast approaching, the number of living U.S. veterans who fought in France is in sharp decline, and many fewer are likely to see the next major anniversary of the invasion. Of those honored Wednesday, the youngest was 88, while most were in their 90s.

Despite the intervening years, their memories of war — of both horrors and triumphs — remain incredibly vivid for several of the veterans who spoke to Stars and Stripes at the ceremony.
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